A mum whose migraines and brain fog were mistaken for signs of perimenopause discovered her symptoms were actually caused by a brain tumour.
Pippa Griffiths, 45, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, also suffered with extreme fatigue and stress which she put down to moving back home from abroad.
Doctors initially thought Griffiths could be perimenopausal but in September last year she woke up with a numbness on one side of her face.
Having been rushed to hospital for an MRI scan which revealed a mass growing on her brain, Griffiths went on to be diagnosed with meningioma, mostly non-cancerous tumours of the membranes that cover the brain.
The nursery assistant had surgery three months ago to remove the tumour, which went well, and since then says her other symptoms, including migraines and brain fog, have lifted.
However, there’s still a risk that the cancer could return.
Griffiths has opted not to have further treatment, such as radiotherapy, as she’s concerned about the life-changing side effects it can potentially cause. Instead, she’s monitoring her health by having regular scans.
"When the doctor listed the possible side effects of radiotherapy, I made the decision not to pursue that treatment," she explains.
"I was warned that it could cause cognitive decline, cataracts and pituitary gland damage which could lead to further surgeries and life-long meds.
"Being a mum to three children aged between 23 and seven, I wasn’t prepared to take that risk. I want to be well enough to enjoy seeing my children grow up."
As well as being determined to focus on family life, Griffiths is also keen to raise awareness and funding for Brain Tumour Research.
She has decided to take part in a 10,000 Steps a Day challenge in February for the charity.
"I get close to 10,000 steps most days but on weekends it’ll be more of a challenge," she explains.
"Having to walk everywhere will help me reach by daily total and it’ll be lots of trips to the park with my youngest son."
Speaking about throwing a light on the subject she adds: "It’s incredibly important to raise awareness of brain tumours.
"Not only to understand their symptoms and causes, but also to help provide kinder treatments and ultimately a cure."
Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, says: "We’re sorry to hear about Pippa’s diagnosis.
"The fact that she has declined any further treatment at this stage due to the side effects of current brain tumour treatment, demonstrates the need for greater investment to research the disease.
"It’s with the support of people such as Pippa, that will bring us closer to find a cure for all types of brain tumours."
Menopause and brain tumour symptoms
There are a number of symptoms of brain tumours, some of which can be mistaken or attributed to other conditions, including the menopause and perimenopause.
It is important to remember, however, that brain tumours are uncommon.
"Patients and GPs may find it difficult to recognise early symptoms [of brain tumours] because they are often non-specific and more likely due to other conditions," previous research, published in the British Journal of General Practice reveals.
Davina McCall previously shared how her severe menopause symptoms left her feeling like she had a "brain tumour or Alzheimer's" following a mistake on TV.
The presenter, 54, told Sophie Raworth on Sunday Morning on BBC One, that her menopause "aged" her and left her feeling "embarrassed" and "irrelevant".
McCall said the brain fog she experienced during perimenopause led her to make a mistake in her job.
"Somebody asked me if I was okay because I'd messed up on a TV programme, and I said 'yes', and when she shut the door and went away, I just burst into tears," she told Sophie.
"Because I thought 'I'm not okay, I think I've got a brain tumour, or I've got Alzheimer's or something, help me'," the presenter added.
What are the symptoms of a brain tumour?
Symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on the exact part of the brain affected.
They might include:
persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
vision or speech problems
Perimenopause and menopause symptoms
The NHS says symptoms of menopause and perimenopause can feel different for everyone. "You may have a number of symptoms or none," it explains.
While there are thought to be as many as 60 symptoms of menopause, some of the most common, according to the NHS, include:
changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)
headaches and migraines
muscle aches and joint pains
changed body shape and weight gain
skin changes including dry and itchy skin
reduced sex drive
vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Speak to your GP if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of menopause or brain tumours.
Additional reporting SWNS.
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